Lance Armstrong secured his place in sporting history in the year 2004 by winning an unprecedented sixth consecutive Tour de France cycling competition. Only four other people have won the Tour five times and only one other cyclist has won it five times consecutively. The Tour de France is not only the most prestigious cycling event in the world but also one of the most challenging and grueling contests in all of sports. As amazing as Lance Armstrong’s achievements as a cyclist are, his incredible recovery from a near fatal illness and his amazing sporting comeback after his recovery make his life story read like something out of a movie.
B Preview of Vocabulary and Sentences
competitively in a competitive manner, that is, with the strong purpose of succeeding or winning
· Lance began running and swimming competitively when he was only 10 years old.
triathlon a sports contest consisting of three consecutive events (usually swimming, bicycling, and distance running), with no time between events
· By the time he was 13, he was competing in triathlons and won the Iron Kids Triathlon.
to encourage to support; to fill with courage and confidence
· Lance’s mother, who raised Lance mostly by herself, recognized and encouraged his competitive spirit.
to focus on to put total attention and energy on
· From that time on, Lance focused completely on cycling.
amateur a person who participates in an activity or competes for pleasure, not for money or for professional reasons
· By 1991, Lance was the U.S. National Amateur Champion.
ups and downs good and bad times
· Although he was generally doing very well, Lance had his ups and downs.
to be ranked to be placed in a particular order based on some criterion, such as (in sports) the number of games or races won
· By 1996, Lance was ranked seventh among cyclists in the world, and he signed a two-year contract with a French racing team.
to be diagnosed to be determined to have a certain, usually medical, condition
to spread to move beyond original place
· At this time, Lance was diagnosed with advanced cancer that had already spread to his brain and lungs.
surgery a procedure involving cutting the body to repair or remove diseased tissue or organs
aggressive powerful; strong; attacking
chemotherapy a treatment using strong chemicals or drugs to destroy cancerous cells
· After these two surgeries, he was given a less than 50-50 chance of survival as he began an aggressive three-month course of chemotherapy.
sponsor person or organization that supports and assists another person, team, or organization, often financially.
· Fortunately, the U.S. Postal Service Team became his new sponsor.
comeback a return to an earlier better condition or position
· Lance’s big comeback was marked by his victory at the 1999 Tour de France.
to be beaten or to be matched to be defeated or to be equal
· Lance’s Tour de France record may never be beaten or even be matched.
to count to matter; to be important
· The book is called Every Second Counts, and for Lance, every second has counted.
C Rhetorical Listening Cues
In this talk the speaker narrates the story of a great contemporary sports hero, Lance Armstrong. The speaker uses certain words and phrases to tell the chronology of his life. These are words and phrases such as the following:
Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1971…
…when he was only 10 years old.
When he turned 16, …
By 1991, …
… a few months away from his 25th birthday, …
… shortly after his 25th birthday,
Quite soon after, …
… in 2004.
A Initial Listening
Now let’s listen to a talk about Lance Armstrong. It may help you to concentrate on the talk if you close your eyes while you listen. Just relax and listen carefully.
B Mental Rehearsal and Review of the Talk
Let’s listen to the talk once again. This time, the narrative about Lance Armstrong will be given in message units. Please repeat each unit to yourself silently after you hear it. Remember, do not repeat the units out loud.
You will not hear the talk given once again. This time as you listen, take notes on what you hear.
A The Comprehension Check
1. Recognizing Information and Checking Accuracy
For questions 1-6 you will hear multiple-choice questions about the information presented in the talk. Listen to each question and decide whether (a), (b), (c), or (d) is the best answer to the question.
_____ 1. (a) 5
_____ 2. (a) the Tour du Pont
(b) the Iron Kids
(c) the Classico San Sebastion
(d) the U.S. National Amateur Championship
_____ 3. (a) 16
_____ 4. (a) almost 0%
(b) almost 100%
(c) less than 50-50
(d) more than 50-50
_____ 5. (a) his mother
(b) a French team
(c) the U.S. Olympic team
(d) the U.S. Postal Service Team
_____ 6. (a) Cancer Survivor
(b) Every Second Counts
(c) Number One in the World
(d) I Owe It All to My Mother
For questions 7-10, you will hear statements about Lance Armstrong. If the statement is true, put a T on the line next to the number of the statement. If the statement you hear is false, put an F on the line and explain why the statement is false.
7. _____ 8. _____ 9. _____ 10. _____ 11. _____
2. Using and Expanding on the Information in the Talk
a. Recaping the Information from Your Notes. Use your notes to recap the information you learned about the life and struggle of Lance Armstrong.
b. Expanding on the Information in the Talk. Discuss the following questions with a classmate:
1. Who are the two most important sports heroes in your country today? Why are they important?
2. Who are your heroes in life? Your father? Mother? Someone in sports? A historical figure? Explain your choice?
3. Do you agree with this statement: Lance Armstrong survived his cancer because he was rich and able to have the best medical treatment available. Why or why not?
B The Listening Expansion
Task 1. Filling in Information and Answering Questions
Cycling is not only a popular sport, but an economical, efficient means of transportation for many people. You are going to listen to a short history of the bicycle. As you listen, follow along in your book. While you listen and read, fill in the missing information in the blank spaces.
History of the Bicycle
The precursor to the bicycle appeared in France in the _____. It was a little wooden horse with a fixed front wheel. Because the wheel was fixed, it could not be turned right or left. This little horse did not have any pedals, and the only way it could be maneuvered was by the rider pushing against the ground with his or her feet.
In _____ the German baron Karl von Drais replaced the fixed front wheel with one that could be steered. Now the wooden horse could be directed right or left. The rider still needed to push it with his or her feet on the ground.
The next development occurred in _____, when a Scottish blacksmith, Kirkpatrick MacMillan, designed the first bicycle-like machine with pedals and cranks. MacMillan called his machine a ‘velocipede’ and rode it the 40 miles from his home to Glasgow, Scotland in only _____ hours.
In _____ Pierre Lallement applied for and received a U.S. patent for a machine that he called the ‘bisicle’. Some people called it a ‘boneshaker’ as it had steel-rimmed wooden wheels. The bicycle got more comfortable in _____ when rubber tires were introduced. _____ _____ _____ _____, the front wheels began to grow larger while the back wheels got smaller, and the first ‘highwheeler’ was introduced in 1872. During the _____, bicycles enjoyed a boom – that is, a sudden growth in popularity. The highwheelers were very popular, especially among young men, as they could go very fast. However, they weren’t very safe. Sitting high up towards the front of the bicycle and traveling very fast, the rider could easily thrown over the front wheel if the bicycle hit a small bump in the road or if a dog ran in front of the bicycle. This type of accident gave rise to the expression ‘to do a header’ as the rider often fell onto his head.
Fortunately, the ‘safety bicycle’ was invented in _____. The safety bicycle had equal-sized wheels, a chain, and a sprocket-driven rear wheel. The rider was _____ sitting further back on the bicycle and in much less danger of ‘doing a header’. More improvements _____ followed. Pneumatic tires – that is, tires with air in them – were invented in _____. Two- and three-speed hub gears came in the 1890s. The last major innovation, the derailleur gear, arrived in _____. No further significant changes were made until the 1970s. In the 1970s bicycles became aerodynamic. That is, changes in design and use of lightweight but strong materials allowed bicycles to reduce the amount of air resistance they encountered and thus go faster. No doubt there will be further improvements in design and materials in future.
Task 2. Listening to Identify Famous People
Look at the names of the following famous people. Think about what you know about each person. Then listen to a series of brief biographies and match the number of each biography to the correct name. Are you ready to listen to the first biography? Listen carefully.